NUWC Division, Keyport Hosts NURP Presentations

Story Number: NNS190624-02Release Date: 6/24/2019 10:56:00 AM
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By Nathanael Miller, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport Public Affairs

KEYPORT, Washington (NNS) -- The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport hosted the 2019 Naval Undersea Research Program (NURP) presentations June 4-6.

The NURP program, run by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), sponsors science and engineering graduate students who are working on thesis topics in undersea technology.

“NURP was created to attract more academically trained professionals into weapon/underwater vehicle-related research and thereby increase the ‘knowledge base’ for undersea weapon and underwater vehicle technologies,” said Maria Medeiros, ONR’s NURP Program Manager. “NURP sponsors graduate-level research performed in collaboration with experienced personnel at Navy laboratories and also at University Affiliated Research Centers.”

Students must be U.S. citizens in order to be considering for participation in the NURP program. Selected students work with their own academic advisors, and are also paired with a mentor from a naval research lab or warfare center. Students are expected to spend some part of each calendar year working at the collaborating naval lab through a summer internship, and must be open to employment at the collaborating laboratory, or any laboratory that performs undersea weapons research, upon completion of their degrees. This is not a guarantee of a job offer by the Department of the Navy, but it is an excellent chance for the Navy to recruit new talent.

The projects are presented once a year, and every year a different warfare center hosts the presentations. This year that privilege fell to NUWC Division, Keyport.

Dr. Aaron Darnton, Deputy Technology Officer at NUWC Division, Keyport, said the program is a great way the Navy can “jump start” research initiatives that can be of benefit to the Navy.

“We’ve got a range of different research topics this year. Everything from chemistry work to a lot of autonomy in undersea vehicles. Human-swarm interaction to study how humans would interact with a group of autonomous vehicles. A whole range of things spanning everything from more conceptual, human-side of things to some very fundamental, basic work on chemical reactions, wave propagation, that sort of thing,” said Darnton.

Eight universities participate in the NURP program, including Virginia Tech, Boston University, Washington State University, Michigan State University, University of Rhode Island, Utah State, University of Utah and Penn State. Each of these schools and their students bring a fresh take on cutting-edge, tip-of-the-spear undersea technological research.

For example, one project is an attempt to model the physical mechanisms that govern the interactions of metallic foam with sound and vibration. The intent is to create a design procedure for optimizing metallic foams in order to control sound and vibration and demonstrate the design procedure for machinery mounts and exterior coatings. Controlling the sound and vibration of underwater materials is clearly a critical component of the Navy’s drive to maintain underwater superiority.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Magliula is a NURP Technical Mentor for NURP projects at Boston University and Virginia Tech. She is a strong proponent of the NURP program because she sees a significant value to the Navy’s engagement of civilian academia.

“The Navy benefits from this program because it attracts more academically trained professionals into underwater weapon/vehicle-related areas not typically supported by industrial research and development,” Magliula said. “The program fosters connections between Navy laboratories and academia, recruits and trains new talent, and increases the number of professionals developing integral undersea weapon and vehicle technology in core areas like autonomy guidance and control, energy, hydrodynamics, advanced materials, etc.”

Engaging civilian academia ensures the Navy can stay abreast of new research and development trends, emerging technologies, and, most importantly, reach out to the talented young researchers studying at some of America’s most prestigious universities.

“The greatest benefit is to be able to provide opportunities to talented US citizen students the chance to work on Navy specific projects as part of their thesis, as well as introduce them to Navy Lab research and career options,” said Medeiros. “The program has been very successful due to the outstanding students that have participated; more than 70% of the students have accepted job opportunities at the Navy Labs and have thrived in their careers.”

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